The entrepreneur and philanthropist Jack Petchey receives a knighthood for services to young people in East London and Essex in the New Year Honours.
The 90-year-old has contributed over £100m since he set up his foundation for youngsters aged 11-25 in 1999.
Sir Jack CBE said it was "such an honour" to be recognised on the list.
Also featured is Glenys Stacey, the out-going head of the exams watchdog, Ofqual, made a dame for services to education.
The Jack Petchey Foundation helps 500,000 young people every year, with the aim of raising aspirations by rewarding their achievements and encouraging them to take pride in what they have done.
Sir Jack was born into a working class family in London's East End in 1925 and left school with no qualifications when he was 13.
He joined the Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm in 1943, but was unsuccessful when he applied to become an officer.
When he was discharged from the Navy, he worked as a clerk. But, having invested his £39 discharge gratuity from the Navy, he bought his first second hand car and started a taxi business.
He became a multi-millionaire through various business ventures, from car dealing and garages to property, travel and investment.
Sir Jack said: "What I am proudest of is the recognition it gives to the Jack Petchey Foundation and the young people we support. I always say 'If you think you can, you can' whatever your background.
"Being recognised with this honour proves just that to the youngsters we work with. They can achieve, make positive contributions to society, and they will be satisfied in their lives."
Dame Glenys, who is stepping down as head of Ofqual in February at the end of her five-year term and is in line to become HM chief inspector of probation, said she was moved to be nominated for her honour.
The former solicitor, who has been chief regulator through many changes to the public examinations system in England, said: "I am deeply moved to have been honoured in this way.
"Like many others, I have found great satisfaction in serving the public and I am looking forward to my new role and the contributions I hope to make."
There are also knighthoods for Professor Paul Curran, vice-chancellor of City University in London and for Dr David Collins, first Further Education Commissioner.
Steve Lancashire, founder of the primary school academy sponsor REAch2, also receives a knighthood and there is a damehood for Susan Jowett, chief executive of the Spencer Academies Trust.
Clive Cowdery receives a knighthood for services to children and social mobility. Mr Cowdery founded the Resolution Foundation in 2005 and personally contributed £20m to the organisation.